The Kindness of Rocks

It was Heather Powell’s love of elaborate cake design that earned her the title, the ‘Cake Lady’. Then it was her obsession with all things relating to pink flamingos that inspired her friends to call her, the ‘Flamingo Lady’. But for this Workman’s Friend Barrier Skin Cream fan, all that changed in the spring of 2017 when she discovered rocks. You guessed it, that’s when she became known as the ‘Rock Lady’. But these aren’t just any kind of rock, they’re Kindness Rocks and their goal is to spread happiness wherever they’re found.

Though the origins of the Kindness Rock movement began in 2016 by a woman in Cape Cod, the act of hiding painted rocks for others to find has been around for decades both in the United States and aboard.

Also known as “Word Rocks”, they are stones usually with a flat surface that are hand-painted with inspirational messages, quotes or creative designs. Hidden in public spaces for strangers to discover, these pebbles are created to encourage others and spread positive feelings.   

It was Powell’s sister in Oregon who discovered these unique rocks while on a trip to Washington State. “My sister called me up and said, why don’t you have a look at them (the rocks) online. I think you’d really like them,” said her sister. A quick glance on the Web and she was instantly hooked.

Over the last year-and-a-half, Powell has honed her painting skills and now almost exclusively creates poured or dip rocks. This is a technique in which several pre-selected acrylic paint colors are chosen and then mixed together. They are either poured over the rock or the stone is dipped into the color mixture and then allowed to dry. The result, as Powell says, is “amazing!”

What isn’t so amazing is the clean-up that she is left with when she’s completed one of her designs. “I work in a professional environment, and I don’t want my hands to be covered in paint and dye stains from my rock work at home.”

That problem was resolved when Powell’s supervisor at work handed her a sample tube of Workman’s Friend Barrier Skin Cream a few months ago. She was quickly amazed by this tiny bottle’s ability to protect her hands from paint and stains. “Now the first thing I do is apply a layer of Workman’s (Friend), to my hands and forearms before I start any of my painting.”

Powell says the clean-up process once she’s completed her rock painting has changed dramatically since using Workman’s Friend Barrier Skin Cream. A simple wipe with a cloth and are her hands are clean. She adds, “plus Workman’s Friend is a fantastic moisturizer. My hands and arms are always soft.” Powell has been so amazed by the barrier skin cream that she’s sent a few samples to her sister, a fellow rock painter.

When she’s not creating her rocks at home, she can be found working full-time as an inventory manager and traveling across the country. In fact, she often travels with a bunch of her painted rocks in her carry-on luggage. “Airports are my favorite place to hide my rocks.”

She’s also managed to find other Kindness Rock enthusiasts and joined groups including “901 Rocks”, “Whidbey Island Rocks”, “West Coast Painted Rocks”, “Rock Painting Addicts”, and “662 Rocks”, just to name a few.

If you ask her why she enjoys hiding her hand-painted stone designs in public spaces, Powell answers, “I love to see someone smile when they discover one of my rocks. That just makes my day.”

As for her favorite type of design to paint on her rocks, Powell doesn’t hesitate, “I love painting bright pink flamingos on them.” That comes as no surprise to those that know her.

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